What do you think of when I say “Honolulu?” Do you get visions of grass skirts, colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas, scenes from Elvis’ Blue Hawaii, and some of the most incredible natural beauty in the world? Honolulu is all that and more! It’s family-friendly and affordable!
Honolulu, Hawaii’s state capital, has lots for families to do. You’ll find art museums, bike paths, majestic views, great cuisine, lots of cultural activities, and plenty of soft sand and great surf. Hike to the top of Diamond Head—a 350-acre volcanic crater—for great views of Oahu. Spend an afternoon at popular Waikiki Beach learning to surf or just enjoying the world-class, people-watching. On non-beach days learn about Hawaiian culture at historic Iolani Palace or the Bishop Museum.
There’s always something for families to do at an affordable price. Here are just some of family-friendly things to do Honolulu.
USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor
On December 7th, 1941, the United States suffered an attack on its own territory at Pearl Harbor. Here, 1,177 crewmen lost their lives when the USS Arizona was sunk by Japanese forces during WWII. The sunken ship remains in the harbor and is the final resting place for many of those crewmen. The three-room USS Arizona Memorial was built across its hull in 1961 to commemorate the lives of those lost. It has now come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack.
Each year more than 2 million people visit the USS Arizona Memorial, making this the most popular attraction in Hawaii. Located in Pearl Harbor, the memorial is part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument which has three other paid attractions. The USS Arizona Memorial is free and open to visitors daily.
Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States.
Where in the United States but in Honolulu can you visit a royal palace? From 1795-1893, Hawaii was ruled by a monarchy. Iolani Palace built in 1879, was the home of Hawaii’s last two monarchs, King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani. Known as the “Merrie Monarch” for his love of the arts and entertainment, King Kalakaua commissioned a palace that was elegantly designed and outfitted with both beautiful decor and modern features such as telephones, plumbing, and electricity. During Queen Liliuokalani’s reign, the monarchy was overthrown by American forces and in 1895 Iolani Palace became not only Liliuokalani’s home, but for several years her prison as well. From 1959-1968, following Hawaii’s statehood, Iolani Palace served as the capital building.
One of Oahu’s most historical places, the palace is open to visitors for a guided or self-guided tours Monday-Saturday.
Photo by David Franzen courtesy of Bishop Museum
Located just on the outskirts of Honolulu, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop is Hawaii’s largest museum dedicated to studying and preserving the history of Hawaii. Originally the museum was established to display the large collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendant of King Kamehameha I. Today, the Museum is the premier place to experience the history, arts and culture of the Hawaiian people.
The museum offers guided tours, demonstration and planetarium presentation (most are included with the admission.) The Bishop Museum is open to visitors Wednesday-Monday.
Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head
Waikiki is the Honolulu’s most famous neighborhood and a popular tourist attraction offering fun activities for families from water sports to nightlife. It’s located on Honolulu’s south shore and is known for its beaches and resorts. Waikiki isn’t Hawaii’s best beach, but with its undeniable natural beauty, it has become its most famous, and possibly it’s most fun. Laid-back, sunny, beautiful, and often crowded, Waikiki is literally the best place for people-watching.
The fun keeps going long after the Waikiki sunset with amazing nightlife and live music. Locals and visitors from all over the world alike spend time on this beach. Are you ready to “hang loose?” Everyone should visit Waikiki Beach at least once…
Snorkeling paradise– Hanauma bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
If it’s your first time snorkeling, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a great experience. There are scores of fish in every imaginable color and shape and even Humpback Whales came into the bay, spouting and churning the water. The coral formations and white sand combined with the azure blue water to create beauty that you thought only existed in paintings. There are helpful guides around to ask questions and it’s easy to hire gear. You’ll not be sorry spending time drifting in the gentle waves watching nature’s wonders below.
There is no place on earth like Hawaii and in Honolulu you’ll find family fun everywhere. Make your next vacation an Hawaiian vacation and make family memories of a lifetime!
If Hawaii is on your horizon check out our post 10 Must See Attractions in Hawaii.
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